ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan reeled from the terror wave, January 2023 remained one of the deadliest months since July 2018, as 134 people lost their lives — a 139 per cent spike — and 254 received injuries in at least 44 militant attacks across the country.

According to statistics released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), an Islamabad-based think-tank, the pattern of terrorist attacks continued in the new year, with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remaining one of the worst victims.

Although the number of terrorism incidents slightly declined in January, the fatalities increased by 139 per cent, mainly due to the Peshawar Police Lines suicide blast which resulted in the death of 101 people on Monday. In January, two suicide bombings were recorded — one in Peshawar and the other one in the Khyber tribal district. At the same time, the security forces foiled a number of attacks by arresting at least 52 suspected militants, mainly from Punjab, and killing 40 suspects, mostly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa not only the militant attacks increased from 17 to 27, but the resultant deaths also increased from 17 to 116 compared to December 2022, the think-tank said quoting data. At least 232 people were also injured in the province, most of them police officials wounded in the Peshawar blast.

134 killed, 254 injured in 44 militant attacks, shows PICSS data

The KP Police was the primary target of the militants operating in the province bordering Afghanistan. In KP, Lakki Marwat was one the most troubled districts, where the majority of the militant attacks were concentrated in January; it was followed by DI Khan and Peshawar.

As the southern region of KP reeled through a major militant offensive during the past few months, Bannu, Charsadda, and Swabi also reported militant attacks over the month.

However, violence in KP’s tribal districts declined during January. Only three militant attacks were reported in the erstwhile Fata region.

In December 2022, the think-tank said it recorded 11 militant attacks in ex-Fata. The security forces stepped up targetted operations in the tribal districts, which was the “main reason” that militant attacks declined in the area. No violent activity was noted in tribal districts with the exceptions of North Waziristan and Khyber districts.

However, militant attacks declined in Balochistan during January, where only nine militant attacks were reported compared to 17 attacks in December 2022. The resultant deaths also dropped from 14 to 7 and the number of wounded declined from 48 to 20. Bolan, Panjgur, Kalat, Khuzdar, Mastung, and Quetta were the affected districts during the month.

Meanwhile, in Punjab, four militant attacks were reported in which three security forces personnel were killed while two low-profile attacks were reported in Sindh in which one person died.

The most high-profile attack was carried out in Mianwali’s Makarwal police station by “around two dozen TTP militants” on January 31. The attack was repulsed, but it showed the numerical strength and ability of banned outfits to mobilise armed militants across the KP and Punjab border. One attack each was reported in Rawalpindi, DG Khan, and Khanewal, the report claimed.

Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2023

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